Farmhouse Midwifery raising standard of care for pregnant women

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CULLMAN, Ala. – Laura Reeder is a certified professional midwife and an Alabama licensed midwife. She is one of three licensed midwives in Cullman. Reeder created Farmhouse Midwifery 2020 to revolutionize a new standard of care for women as they go through pregnancy. Reeder with the help of other birth workers and health professionals operate the Farmhouse where they provide services including childbirth education, ultrasound imaging, prenatal massage, chiropractic care, lactation support and fitness coaching.

Midwifery was made legal in Alabama in 2017 and the state began issuing licenses in 2019 for the first time since the 70s.

Reeder said, “My degree is in Community Health Education from UAB, and I worked at St. Vincent’s for 12 years and focused on their wellness department, so a lot of my background was in community health seeing where there are health disparities and things like that in the community and then establishing educational programs, Lunch and Learns, health fairs, health screenings, that kind of thing.”

This background would influence Reeder on her current endeavors to gather people and educate them on the different options available to them during and after pregnancy.

Reeder is originally from Cullman and attended Cullman High School. She and her husband moved back to the area from Birmingham after having children and bought their farm in 2012.

“We moved back after we had a bunch of kids and bought a little farm, so we had a little homestead. When I became a midwife, my heart was kind of set to have everything centered around our farm because modern maternity care can be so stressful. You know, you have to get in the car, usually people are going to Birmingham. They are having to fight through a parking deck, they’re having to wait and then they get like 15 minutes with their care provider and they’re out the door.”

“During the labor and birth times, you’re just surrounded by strangers in this unfamiliar place with all these lights on you and that can be a lot for people to process. Sometimes people can leave that feeling like things were done to them instead of they had active participation in their birth.”

Laura Reeder with patient and midwife assistant Janae Bradford (Sara Gladney for The Cullman Tribune)

Reeder says the midwifery model of care is centered around informed consent. “Giving people all their options and then giving them the autonomy to make the decisions that are best for them. We really wanted more of a community centered care for women when they are pregnant or trying to conceive or in the post-partum period when you feel like you’re by yourself.”

At Farmhouse Midwifery, a collective of specialists come together to bring their clients holistic service.

Often, Reeder refers patients to other services at the Farmhouse, such as pre and postnatal fitness instruction or chiropractic care. “That’s one of the hardest things for women is to piecemeal together all of the care that they need during their pregnancy. So, the goal is to bring it all into one place,” she said.

Women can contact the Farmhouse at any stage in their pregnancy. Many women call Reeder when they are first thinking about getting pregnant. Prenatal testing is started around 10-12 weeks. She has also had women transfer their care to her at 32 weeks. “That happened a lot during Covid.” Midwives are not allowed to provide care for clients with certain conditions like diabetes type 1 or 2, HIV, thyroid disease, cardiac disease or previous major surgery.

Reeder usually performs deliveries at people’s homes. She says 80% of the births she does are water births.

The births are unmedicated, but explains she is allowed to administer life-saving medication if needed. “As far as pain management, we’re gonna rely more on coping skills and relaxation practices, movement, different positions, comfort measures like water and back rubs and counter pressure, different things like that. We find that moms can deal with the discomfort a lot better when they have freedom to move around, and they aren’t just stuck in a bed the whole time.”

“We are flexible enough to allow people to birth the way that they want to and we’re there to kind of oversee the process and make sure there are no red flags or to know when to make that call if things get bigger risk and they need to transfer,” she continued.

Reeder also differentiated between home birth midwives and certified nurse midwives in hospitals, saying, “In Alabama, nurse midwives only have privileges in a hospital or in a birth center setting. Where the CPM’s, we don’t have privileges in a hospital, but we do have privileges in the home.”

Farmhouse Midwifery offers community classes at Karmas Coffeehouse every second Saturday of the month from 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Reeder explained, “When you’re going to choose a provider of any kind of service it’s so hard to just get on the Internet and find a picture and go meet a stranger and get really vulnerable about whatever it is you’re going through. So, I had this idea that if we offered these events, it would be a way to help educate the community with free health information. Also, it’s an opportunity for people from the community to get to meet us and ask their questions in an informal setting.”

There are often guest speakers in attendance to educate people on various women’s health topics.

Reeder concluded, “It really is a beautiful thing because I’ve seen both dynamics. I worked in a hospital for a long time. I did do a lot of work in a hospital as well, so lots of hospital births. I’ve had both hospital births and home births and there’s a huge difference in the quality of care you get when you go for a one hour prenatal versus a 15-minute prenatal and you get to really form that relationship with your care provider where there’s that trust between both people.”

For more information visit: https://farmhousemidwifery.com/.

Chiropractor Dr. Ashleigh Edmonson, Laura Reeder CPM, LM, Doula and Childbirth Educator Marilyn Echols (Sara Gladney for The Cullman Tribune)

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